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Recognizing Champions of Change: Strengthening Food Security at Home and Abroad

Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
Earlier today, I had the pleasure of congratulating 11 extraordinary individuals being recognized through the White House Champions of Change program for their work to tackle hunger in the United States and abroad. The Champions recognized today are making improved access to healthy food a reality for millions of individuals in need. Innovative programs like [...]

With Apologies to the Teacher, Local Apples Head Straight for the Cafeteria

Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
An apple for the teacher? Yes, and the cafeteria too. Classic images of eager children handing perfect apples to their teacher abound. In the idealized imagery, the apples are often shiny, red, and round. And if you are angling for a good grade, or really like your teacher, the apples are big. But in New [...]

Making School Days Healthier in Miami

Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
I recently had the pleasure of visiting North Beach Elementary School in Miami to recognize 177 schools in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools District for their efforts to promote good nutrition and physical activity to their students. All 177 schools achieved Bronze Awards in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). Miami-Dade now has the honor of [...]

It’s Back to School Night with the PTA… From the Comfort of Your Own Home!

Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
The school day just got healthier! This year, thanks to the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, students can expect to see healthier and more nutritious food on school lunch trays across the country. To help navigate what these changes mean, you are invited to join National PTA President Betsy Landers, White House Chef Sam Kass, [...]

U.S. Cherries On Top In South Korean Market

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
It’s only been four months since the historic U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (KORUS) removed two thirds of the tariffs imposed on U.S. food and agricultural products exported to South Korea. But already, sales of U.S. fresh cherries are on the rise. The elimination of a 24-percent import duty on cherries – along with marketing support [...]

Gardening at 9,500 Feet!

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
With gas prices on the rise and the trip to the nearest large grocery store clocking in at 50 miles, Mark Platten realized an opportunity much closer to home. Platten, the Colorado State University Extension Director for Teller County, began brainstorming and came up with the idea for a program that would engage young people [...]

From Food Trucks to Text Messages – Fighting Hunger in New York City

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
For most children, summertime means school vacation, family trips and beach days, but for many, it also means losing the two free or reduced-price meals provided at school. The New York City Department of Education SchoolFood program is working with USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to fill that nutrition gap and taking aggressive steps [...]

HealthierUS Schools Challenge Reaches Major Milestone

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
It’s always a treat when we get to announce major progress toward making the school day healthier. Today, I am happy to say that over 3717 schools are recognized through the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC).  This voluntary initiative acknowledges schools that go the extra mile to increase nutritious food offerings, teach kids about healthy eating, [...]

Hunger Doesn’t Stand a Chance in Michigan

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation, and the State of Michigan is making sure that nutrition assistance programs don’t either. I recently traveled to the west side of the state to see some of the inspiring work our partners are doing to make sure that no one in their community has to face hunger. I [...]

Communities on the Move Video Challenge Winners Announced

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog: The winners of the Communities on the Move Video Challenge have been chosen!  Since First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Video Challenge in February, Let’s Move Faith and Communities has been inspired by every congregation and community that submitted a video highlighting how they are promoting healthy lifestyles [...]

What Can the Food Environment Atlas Tell You?

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
Understanding a community’s food environment is key to understanding a community’s identity.  But what can a “food environment” tell us? A community’s food environment is a technical term for assessing information about the who, what, where, and how of food availability in a given community: Who are the people in the community? What kinds of [...]

Building a home, a community, friendships…and values with USDA RD Self-Help Program

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
“Even decades from now, after we die, our son will remember what we did to give him a home,” said Moises Fonseca in the comfortable living room of his new home. His six-year old son, also named Moises, smiled shyly at his dad. Moises and his wife Juanita spent eight months working after hours and [...]

Top Reasons to Shop at a Farmers Market

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
Why shop at a Farmers Market? Access to fresh, locally grown foods, for starters. That may be one of the best reasons, but there are many more. Farmers markets have fruits and vegetables at the peak of the growing season. This means produce is at its freshest and tastes the best. The food is typically [...]

Organic 101: Role of the National Organic Standards Board

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
This is the sixth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is made up of dedicated public volunteers appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. It advises the National Organic Program (NOP), a part of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), on what substances should [...]

USDA Offers Funding to Support School Nutrition

Fri, 04/27/2012 - 4:25pm
6 cent rule is a linchpin to schools adopting new meal standards that will improve kids’ meal choices in the cafeteria. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has issued an important piece of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – the 6 cent interim final rule – to give schools and communities the tools to [...]

Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth School Pilot Program: Training Teachers Coast to Coast

Fri, 04/27/2012 - 10:22am
A classroom floor becomes a garden as 2nd graders at Hiawatha Elementary in Webster, Iowa decide which of their favorite fruits and vegetables will be planted in their school garden. Gathered in anticipation around a rectangle that represents the actual size of the garden bed, their teacher skillfully guides the planning, helping them consider which [...]

Organic 101: The Lifecycle of Organic Food Production

Fri, 04/27/2012 - 10:22am
This is the fifth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations. Through defined farming practices, organic principles promote ecological balance, foster the cycling of resources, and conserve biodiversity. To understand what that means when it comes to the label on your food, those principles require some more [...]

Introducing the Regional Food Hub Guide: An Innovative Tool for Growing Local Food Systems

Wed, 04/25/2012 - 7:30pm
What can farmers and ranchers do if they’re interested in selling locally but don’t have the resources to run their own trucks, processing plants or marketing strategies?  What can institutional buyers, –like schools, hospital and retailers — do to offer more local food to their customers? A regional food hub is one possible answer. Regional [...]

USDA Announces New Farm to School Program to Improve the Health and Nutrition of Kids Receiving School Meals

Tue, 04/24/2012 - 10:10am
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog: Last week USDA released a new farm to school grant program designed to help give children a sense of where their food comes from and increase the availability of local foods in schools. Joined by students at Southern High School in Harwood, MD, as well as school and [...]

Food and Nutrition Service Heeds the Blueprint for Cost Savings

Tue, 04/24/2012 - 1:02am
In the three months since Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA’s “Blueprint for Stronger Service,” the Food and Nutrition Service has continued to develop cost-saving and efficient strategies that will save taxpayers money and streamline operations. The “Blueprint for Stronger Service” was designed to modernize and accelerate service delivery while improving the customer experience through [...]